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The Cold War and AfterHistory, Theory, and the Logic of International Politics$
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Marc Trachtenberg

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152028

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152028.001.0001

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Preventive War and U.S. Foreign Policy

Preventive War and U.S. Foreign Policy

(p.247) Chapter Eight Preventive War and U.S. Foreign Policy
The Cold War and After

Marc Trachtenberg

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the Bush administration's strategy of “preemption” in the early 2000s. The Bush administration declared that U.S. policy could no longer be based on the principle of deterrence. The nation could not “remain idle while dangers gather.” It had to identify the threat and destroy it “before it reaches our borders” and “take whatever action [was] necessary” to protect itself. The new policy was considered a total break with American tradition and stunned the international community. The chapter brings a historian's perspective to bear on this issue. Has the Bush administration really broken with American tradition in this area by adopting what it calls a “preemptive” strategy? The goal here is to get at the issue by looking at how other American administrations dealt with this kind of problem.

Keywords:   United States, defense policy, preemptive strategy, foreign relations, George W. Bush

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